HENRY Chimbiri, the father of MDC-Alliance activist Cecilia Chimbiri (pictured), who was reportedly abducted and tortured by suspected state security agents, says he broke down when he first saw his 30-year-old daughter, the bad state she was in.
Cecilia, alongside Harare West member of the National Assembly Johanna Mamombe and fellow activist Netsai Marova, mysteriously disappeared from police custody on Wednesday last week after having been arrested at a roadblock after a flash demonstration by party youths.
They resurfaced at a shopping centre in rural Bindura, 86,9 kilometres north-east of Harare early on Friday to tell horrendous stories of the savage beating, sexual abuse and torture they said they endured at the hands of their yet-to-be-identified abductors. For Chimbiri, the heart-rending sight of his traumatised daughter was too much to bear as he feared for the worst.
The Zimbabwe Independent spoke to the enraged father on Tuesday this week, who says he is still emotionally devastated by the heart wrenching state he found his daughter in. Cecilia’s clothes were blood-stained, soiled and torn. She could hardly walk as her feet were swollen. That was also the case with Mamombe and Marova, described by their lawyers as victims of enforced disappearance.
“I will never forgive the police for this. They need to apologise. (Police commissioner-general Godwin) Matanga needs to apologise. I will never trust or respect them. They know what happened,” a distraught Chimbiri told the Independent.
“They are the ones who are supposed to be guarding the Constitution yet they are the ones tearing it apart.”“It is a frightening experience that my daughter and other daughters had to go through and they are traumatised. My daughter’s future has been damaged, her health has been disturbed, the other time she fell from her hospital bed and the other girl also fell from her bed, her legs sometimes get numb, indicating that they were tortured on the legs and on the hands.”
Chimbiri said as a victim of torture himself, he perfectly understands what his daughter is going through and how difficult it is going to be for her to fully recover.
“I was tortured on my organs. I know how these monsters operate. What kind of person inserts a gun into someone’s anus? And my daughter went through that? I am broken. The trauma is just too much. I don’t know how she will recover from what these monsters did. It is the work of witches.”
He also had no kind words for some politicians, who have poked fun at the three’s ordeal, saying the alleged abduction was staged.
“And you hear people like that Linda Masarira talking nonsense about this case. Is she even a woman, because if she was a woman, a mother, she would feel what a mother feels. And that rhumba singer, (Information deputy minister Energy) Mutodi. God is watching.”
Chimbiri gave Cecilia his mother’s name, and the two have a strong bond. She is the first born and has four brothers. “When she is happy, I am happy and when she cries I get disturbed. She is someone who is enlightened and speaks her mind.
“On that Wednesday the 13th (of May), she left to go and meet up with her friends and I went for a funeral. I got a distress call from her at 15:48 saying daddy phone me now. I called back and that is when she said they had been arrested at the showground roadblock with her friends. And then the phone ended.
“I drove to Harare Central Police Station and there was an officer at the information desk. He said he was not aware of what I was inquiring about and directed me to another desk. While I was asking about my daughter and others, three officers came and said that the girls’ case was still being dealt with and they started threatening me with arrest for obstruction if I kept making noise,” Chimbiri added.
He said he was then taken to room 115 where one of the officers there said the girls had been arrested for demonstrating and for plotting to overthrow the government.
While at Harare Central Police Station, another officer told him that the girls had been taken to the law and order department, but he still he could not locate them.
“I then called the lawyers and also made a call to my wife. I suspected something was wrong as I was once taken and tortured in 2005. My wife’s blood pressure spiked and we had to organise for her to get medical attention.”
“Now instead of letting the children recuperate, they are further traumatising them, even taking them pictures and circulating them on social media. I am very angry over that. They have even gone further to have people follow me, and coming to our house in Budiriro. My children and even grandchildren are now living in fear. They are devastated. My other grandchild came and asked if her tete (aunt) was killed.”
The families have also resolved to get food for the three youth leaders as they have security concerns. Mamombe’s husband, Mfundo Mlilo, said their priority was the women’s recovery.
“Our focus right now is making sure they recover, that is where our energies are. We have also decided to get them food privately because of security concerns,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), in a statement this week, said it has launched its own investigations on “the alleged abduction and torture of three female MDC-Alliance members”.
“Investigations are still underway and the Commission is still to interview some key witnesses and informants. Further information will be shared once the full-scale investigations have been finalised.”
As a recommendation to the police, ZHRC said: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police should respect and uphold the human rights of arrested and accused persons by not assaulting and torturing suspects or exposing them to such acts of violence”.